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Saturday, Second Week of Lent

February 23, 2008

Blessed St. Polycarp’s Day! (look for his story in a neighboring post)

Readings:
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 (God is merciful)
Psalm 103: 1-12 “The Lord is kind and merciful”
+Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 (prodigal son)

There was no plea the day the prodigal left, knapsack bulging with the fruits of his father’s labor. His heart still smarting from the implication, “Drop dead, Dad, I want my dough now”, the father had simply begun the sad, silent vigil, a daily scanning of the horizon for any hint of a return.

“Please, not what I deserve!”

This passionate cry of repentance thrills the Father’s heart, unleashing His extravagant love. “He lives!!! Quick! The robe, the ring, the shoes, the fatted calf–let’s celebrate!!!”

“The bruised reed he will not break, the smoldering wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). Far from it!

In stark contrast is the cold, self-righteous complaint, “I deserve better than this!” “For years now I have slaved for you. I never disobeyed one of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends”

You’ve never spent a desperate night starving in a repulsive foreign pigpen either.

This is the contempt that breaks the Father’s heart anew, wringing from His compassion a penetrating plea to break free of the self-made hell that locks a soul out of the ringing joy of redemption.

The Father longs, waits, pleads, extending mercy as far as it will go…but the bars of our prison are locked from the inside. Our fate is in our own hands. Until we come to our senses and surrender to His generosity, we will remain locked in the pigpen or out in cold, dark isolation while all is warm and plentiful and bright within our Father’s house.

May our receptivity to mercy bring joy to our Father’s Heart.

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